Welcome to the eighty-fourth chapter in the latest volume of the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Over ten years damnit! Written by British comics commentator, me, Rich Johnston, it's read by comic book professionals and readers alike. Loved and hated equally, every Monday (ish) it brings the stories not-quite-ready-for-primetime, a look behind the curtain, a sniff of the toilet seat, the worst and the best that the comics industry can inspire. Go in with your eyes open, your blinkers off and a peg on your nose.


[Green Light]I hear word that Previews for May will bring a certain surprise. "Astonishing X-Men" #1 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. This gives added credence to the belief that the previously reported 12 month gap between the beginning of Reload and Whedon's run was either abandoned, or was a distracting leak (though one picked up by quite a few people).


[Yellow Light]And with Warren Worthington (Archangel) moving with Professor X to the new "Excalibur," it's expected that Chris Claremont will be reviving the character Psylocke from the dead, Betsy Braddock, sister of "Excalibur" mainstay Captain Britain, and girlfriend of Warren. Claremont was repeatedly denied permission to bring her back from the dead, as part of Joe Quesada's stated dislike of deaths being temporary in comics. However, with Grant Morrison doing the same in "X-Men," and Chris Claremont gaining a stronger grip on the X-books after the relative success of "X-Treme X-Men," that attitude seems to have been relaxed.


[Green Light]Also, as part of the whole "Reload" malarky, expect to see John Romita Jr. taking the artistic credit in "Wolverine." This won't, as some have expected, mean the end of his run on "Amazing Spider-Man," why the speeding bullet will do both books!


[Red Light]So why have a number of Marvel e-mails been bouncing this weekend? Is it a) a bunch of redundancies/dismissals/end of contracts across the Publishing Division… or is it b) a problem with email, mydoom virii or someone forgetting to turn the emails back on again for certain people?

News will out I'm sure…


[Green Light]Tony Moore's cover to "Walking Dead" #9...finished mere hours ago, and already it's leaked.


[Green Light]So, anyway, there I am in Comics Showcase, picking up my copy of Dicks Christmas Special which I'd managed to miss, when I hear American male and female voices. Hardly unusual, London comic shops seem to attract them, but this one seems familiar…

A slightly dally later and I'm introducing myself to artist Melinda Gebbie and Top Shelf's Brett Warnock. They were here in London on pre-press work for Top Shelf's imminent release of the "Lost Girls" volumes by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. Brett's a regular reader of this column so we geek out together, while Melinda stayed serene, above such asinine surroundings, flicking through some nearby comics.

So isn't it a nice surprise, a few days later, to receive these in my e-mail…

"Lost Girls," the complete hardcover volumes, published by Top Shelf this summer.


[Yellow Light]I hear that CrossGen may be in line to get a ten million dollar infusion in the very near future. How much of that will be scooped up by creditors, how much by the lagging trade paperback department, or how much by new projects is yet to be established.


[Green Light]A recent Newsarama piece about Space Ghost, taken from an Argentinean Web site interview with Ariel Olivetti managed to miss a couple of other items on that site, "Superman/Batman Vs Alien/Predator" being the most prominent.

But other sections notes that "Hellblazer" artist Marcelo Frusin has two new projects with Brian Azzarello. The first being a Western-themed miniseries, paying homage to Sergio Leone, and a second series about the Chicago police force, and a detective who joins the Mafia, as well as a 6 page preview of "Hellblazer" 192 and a page from the new "She-Hulk" book. Pencilled and inked.


[Green Light]On the Insane Rantings board, Adrian Brown has been posting the pitch and script samples from the unpublished Sandman/Hellblazer story, "Marquee Moon" by Pete Hogan, that would have featured an approved appearance by The Clash and remains, completed, in a DC drawer somewhere…

Go here and here to read more.


[Green Light]And talking of the trenchcoated fella, here's the apparent logo for the new film…


[Green Light]Scott Young's absence from a recent issue of "Human Torch" caused his fans some concern. On the Led Heavy forum, Skottie confirmed, "here's the scoop. 9 is my last issue. I became pretty sick before starting on 10, and i asked to have a little help. Now, i am working on my new project with Marvel. I will say that it is 5 issues. but, can't say more than that yet. Should be able to soon."

This is expected to involve "Venom," either the current series or a new project.


[Green Light]Last week's reported repetition of lettering from one page to another in the deluxe, expensive, hardcover "Daredevil" Vol. 1 seems to have been noted in every copy of the book.

However, most readers didn't notice. In a very arty and experimental style by David Mack, featuring a character called "Echo," it appears that most readers thought it was done deliberately as, well, an "echo"…

I haven't heard any news if Marvel intend to recall or offer a replacement, the book did ship a year ago, and people have only just notices, but expect it to be fixed in any further prints.

It's not the only similar recent report - I hear the second "Green Arrow" hardcover concluding Kevin Smith and Phil Hester's run has two pages switched.


[Green Light]The pseudonym game gets further out of control. The original, scotched rumour was that Jim Fry and James Bosch were the same person - this was later revealed to be a mishearing of the confirmed story that James Bosch and Jim Fern are one and the same.

But it appears that where this confusion arose is that Jim Fry is also working under an assumed name, for Image Comics. Who is it? Ah, that would be telling…


[Green Light]Mike Carey, author of "Hellblazer," "Lucifer," "My Faith In Frankie," "Wetworks" and probably by the time you read this, "Strawberry Shortcake," was Waiting For Tommied earlier this week. Go read.


If you've got a story, talk to me. Your identity will remain anonymous unless you wish otherwise. You can choose a pseudonym and join the ranks of the Gutterati. Or be a demon reposter, join the Gutter Snipes and spread the word about stories in this column across the Internet, where relevant. Then tell me where you've put them up - the more mainstream the better!

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